Groody makes JP's day
galloping grey Groody Hill capped a red-letter day for owner JP McManus with a last-gasp victory in yesterday's Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan.
The Limerick millionaire owner also struck with Down Under and Formidableopponent, as well as getting on the scoresheet at Wexford with Baby Whizz for a four-winner haul on the day.
But it was Groody Hill which earned the most plaudits with a thrilling success to complete a hat-trick after wins at Punchestown and Wexford.
The five-year-old had plenty to do at the last as Ad Idem took the measure of Cross Appeal, which made a bad mistake. Alan Crowe conjured a great run out of Christy Roche's charge to get up in the last strides, finishing to such effect that he won by half a length. Cross Appeal was three and a half lengths back in third with Some Target fourth.
Crowe, who has handed a one-day ban for his use of the whip, was winning back-to-back renewals of the Troytown having been successful 12 months ago on Jack The Bus.
"I had a good run the whole way," Crowe said. "I jumped the fourth-last and landed running, but turning in they got away a bit.
"I knew my lad would keep going so I kept at him. Thankfully, he kept going."
Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, remarked: "That was great. At the last I thought he was going to be third but in fairness he kept at it and stayed on well. He loves that ground which is a big plus.
"From what I saw of him going round he jumped very well. It's lovely to win a race like this. Alan deserves a lot of the credit.
"He has been tricky from the word go but Alan gave him a great ride. If he gets into the Paddy Power Chase (at Leopardstown on December 27), he will probably go there."
The Noel Meade-trained Formidableopponent (11/8 favourite) staked his claim to be in McManus' team for the Cheltenham Festival next March with a clear-cut three-and-a-quarter-length victory in the EBF Maiden Hurdle.
"Paul (Carberry) said he didn't like the ground much," said Meade. "He said he was struggling a bit down the back.
"It wasn't until he pulled him out on the better ground in the straight that he picked up.
"He's a nice horse. He has won a point-to-point. If the ground got very heavy we would have to dodge it a bit with him. We'll talk to the boss (McManus) and see where he goes next."
The Francis Flood-trained Down Under (11/4 favourite) got the McManus machine rolling by taking the Dunderry Handicap Hurdle.
Mount Benbulben came with a late rattle to land the spoils in the Irish Form Book "Monksfield" Novice Hurdle.
Rebel Fitz held a handy lead and looked set for success in this Grade Two contest, but he had nothing left when Mount Benbulben (5/2) put in a strong challenge from the last.
Davy Condon brought Gordon Elliott's charge with a powerful run in the last 100 yards to score by just over a length.
"He's a nice horse and he's very tough. He's got a fair engine and going further will be no problem," Elliott said.
"We'll look for something over Christmas for him and we'll see how he comes out of this race. We wouldn't go any shorter. He stays very well."
Paddy Power left the winner unchanged at 20/1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. Condon was, however, given a three-day ban by the stewards for excessive use of his whip.
Following two falls earlier in the day, Ruby Walsh gave up his ride on Nearest The Pin, third to the impressive Flemenstar in the beginners chase.
"We'll have to move him up now and we'll look at the Grade One chase at Leopardstown over Christmas," Flemenstar's trainer Peter Casey said of the 5/4 favourite. "He has still a bit to learn with the jumping."
Walsh, meanwhile, was reported to be suffering from soreness after his two tumbles, but should be back in action during the week.
"He rode after he had the falls, but he's just sore so he stood himself down for the last," said Walsh's agent and sister Jennifer. "He rode in the Troytown after the fall but was sore. Whenever Paul (Nicholls) wants him during the week, he'll be back."
Earlier, the opening three-year-old two-mile maiden hurdle was landed in good style by Edward Harty's In Bloom on her jumping debut at 8/1 with Niall Madden in the saddle.
The daughter of Montjeu had been campaigned on the Flat with limited success but she readily took to hurdling when racing prominently throughout to fend off Dessie Hughes' well-backed Chill by a length-and-a-quarter after a battle from the final flight.
An excellent card was rounded off with the Listed fillies' bumper in which Thynetocatcher and jockey Mark Enright served up a 25/1 shock.
Roger McGrath's five-year-old mare took over from Dancin' Glory in the final furlong and held a challenge from gallant top-weight Shu Lewis (13/2) by two-and-a-half-lengths with Hats And Heels back in third.
"The big galloping track here suited her," McGrath said. "It was a very hot field and we were nervous after things went so wrong at Roscommon. She wasn't herself that day and we gave her a break after that.
"She'll go back over hurdles now and go chasing next year. She won a point-to-point and she's a brilliant jumper."